CAFRE supports Artsekta bring communities together with food 


April 6, 2022

The College of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Loughry Campus has lead responsibility for people development and knowledge and technology transfer programmes in the food processing and supply industry. Loughry Campus supports small and medium-sized businesses innovate through the Invest NI Innovation Voucher programme. Through a partnership approach, companies access support, specialist knowledge and practical skills required to help promote innovation, develop new products and systems to assist their business to grow. Innovation Vouchers are not exclusive to food businesses, with the funding stream being active across CAFRE’s portfolio of agriculture, horticulture and equine projects. The College has a fantastic range of equipment and facilities to advance innovation projects to help businesses compete more efficiently.

Artsekta is a multi-award winning cultural organisation, which works to develop intercultural relationships at the heart of the community. Nisha Tandon is the force behind this business and she is passionate about bringing communities together through engagement in areas of diversity, rhythm and taste; not only in Belfast, but further afield. To date, there have been numerous projects initiated by the company, which encourage togetherness in an ever-changing world.  Due to the impact of the pandemic, the mainstream activity of Artetka’s business was forced to change due to the restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19. The company chose a different direction, in the belief that there were areas for further exploration of cultural diversity through food development in the form of meal kits. This move was positively facilitated by the successful application of an Innovation Voucher from Invest NI and a partnership with CAFRE Loughry Campus and Food Technologist Ruth Hyndman.

Meetings between the company representatives and CAFRE Food Technologist Ruth aided the transition of the idea generation process into the product development process.  The facilities provided by Loughry Campus allowed production trials to be completed in a way that was reflective of industrial practices.  Recipes were researched and meals in which the spice blends and pastes would be used were trialled. This process took some time as a number of tweaks and tastings were essential to the progression of the products. After some months of product development, the recipes for the spice blends and the pastes were finalised.  A strong two way communication process between the Company and Knowledge Provider brought about changes throughout the development process. This proved to be crucial in the successful development of the product.

Nisha’s background in food development, especially in the area of Asian Cuisine and her precise sensory skills, were crucial to all aspects of the development process.

Nisha comments,

“We were delighted to receive support through the Invest NI Innovation Voucher scheme to work alongside CAFRE in the first stage development of our new product idea. Working in collaboration with Food Technologist Ruth Hyndman has been extremely beneficial to our social enterprise with a range of knowledge and skills transferred throughout the process. We look forward to working further with Ruth and her team in the next stage of product development ahead of the launch of our global meal kit offering which will undoubtedly increase our passion for promoting cultural diversity.”

Loughry Food Technologist Ruth Hyndman states;

 “Working alongside the personnel at Artsetka on this project provided me with a greater awareness of flavours and tastes which work well and complement each other.  The communication channels used enhanced the development process and proved to be key when changes were required.  Hopefully in the future we can build on the strong links established and see the successful fruition of this product concept.”

If you are interested in developing a product with CAFRE, please contact the Knowledge Advisory Team at CAFRE’s Loughry Campus: loughry.foodtechnology@daera-ni.gov.uk.

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